Haida Gwaii (“Islands of the People”), formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands, is an archipelago on the North Coast of British Columbia, Canada. Haida Gwaii consists of two main islands: Graham Island in the north, and Moresby Island in the south, along with approximately 150 smaller islands with a total landmass of 10,180 km2 (3,931 sq mi). Other major islands include Anthony, Langara, Louise, Lyell, Burnaby, and Kunghit Islands.
The islands are separated from the British Columbia mainland to the east by Hecate Strait. Vancouver Island lies to the south, across Queen Charlotte Sound, while the U.S. state of Alaska is to the north, across a marine border Dixon Entrance disputed by two Nation state claimants, Canada and the USA. Haida territories, continuously occupied before Canada or USA claims, include lands and waters on both side of this political disagreement. There is no evidence of a free informed prior legal transfer of competence over these territories from the Indigenous Peoples to either Nation state.
In the Haida Gwaii archipelago all lands and waters are subject to the policies and jurisdiction of the Haida Nation. Additionally some of the islands are protected under Canada federal legislation as Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, which is mostly Moresby Island and adjoining islands and islets (Gwaii Haanas is the Haida name for Moresby Island). In all these instances the Haida Nation has pre established protected status and subsequently agreed to the limited Canadian jurisdictional declarations. The foundation document that permits this to occur without prejudice to the underlying issues of sovereign jurisdiction is the Gwaii Haanas Agreement which recognizes the dual presence of two governmental structures.
In essence, Haida Gwai is a semi-autonomous political entity, like Monaco’s relationship with France, or the Vatican City in Italy.
And I had never even heard of it. A sensible strategy in a messed up world: keep your head down, and be inconspicuous.